HC Deb 23 October 1956 vol 558 cc457-8
5. Mr. Swingler

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent the Defence Departments have already overspent on their Estimates in the current financial year.

16. Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how current expenditure compares with the Estimates in respect of the Defence Departments.

Mr. H. Macmillan

There are indications that some Votes of the Defence Departments may be overspent by the end of the financial year, but it is too early to attempt a very accurate forecast.

Mr. Swingler

Does that mean that the Chancellor has no idea of what the bill will be for the Suez manoeuvres? Does it also mean that he has put no limit on the extra military spending which the Service Departments undertake?

Mr. Macmillan

No, Sir. Out of my natural courtesy, I answered the Question on what I thought it was intended to mean. If I had chosen to answer it precisely, the answer would have been that no Defence Department has already overspent its Estimates for the current year.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Is the Chancellor aware that whatever has been spent so far has only resulted in an awful muddle, including disgruntled reservists who seem to be on the verge of mutiny? Is it not the duty of the Treasury to ensure that some degree of administrative efficiency exists in all other Government Departments?

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the Chancellor say, out of his natural courtesy, whether we are to expect any Supplementary Estimates this autumn on the Defence Estimates, and will he further say whether any of the overspending at present going on has been met by virement between the Service Departments?

Mr. Macmillan

That is a rather complicated question, of which I should prefer to have notice. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, there may have to be Supplementary Estimates sometimes because of the rules about the different Votes, but on the total result it is too early to tell.